This Startup Exclusively Sells Kickstarter Products

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Cool factor? One thousand.

Kickstarter fans now have a new way to discover cool projects (and minus the non-fulfilment risk – hurrah!). The world’s first ever retail store to sell Kickstarter products, We The People, opened in Singapore’s retail and entertainment hub of Orchard Road last September. In March, a second 2,000-square-foot store opened its doors, this time with a workshop space and cafe to grow the community. We spoke to WTP co-founder Ryan Sim to find the secret behind their success.

First up, congrats on the opening of your second store in Singapore! It’s been less than a year since the unveiling of your first store – had you planned to expand this quickly?

It wasn’t planned. Opportunity came knocking and we welcomed it! The first store definitely helped with opening more doors for us.

It’s inspiring to see you go against the tide by opening up a retail store. What made you want to do this when you could simply continue focusing on your Kisetsu wallets, a project you’ve successfully raised money for on Kickstarter, and keep your operating costs down?

The statistics added up and opening a retail space wasn’t at counter-intuitive as you may think. I see it as a mutually beneficial marriage. Sure, I could keep my operating costs down, but that doesn’t mean an increase in sales either. With We The People store, Kisetsu’s wallet sales has increased significantly. This is the same for the majority of the brands that we carry in the store. People love Kickstarter products.

Are most of your WTP customers already familiar with Kickstarter or is the store their first introduction?

A good 70 per cent of them already know about Kickstarter, and a good portion of these guys have already pledged for numerous projects. Did you know that Singapore amounts to the most amount of Asian backers per capita on Kickstarter? It’s amazing!

How do you choose the products to stock?

Among the thousands of Kickstarter products online, thousands more don’t work as advertised, and it takes lots of time and effort to ascertain whether or not it functions properly. These products are so new and there aren’t enough reviews to go around. Right off the bat, for a product to be shortlisted, the campaign must be a success with positive reviews from the backers. If reviews are bad, we’d probably move on to the next candidate. However, there are special cases with brands coming up with version 2.0s that solve all the issues. These we can, and will, consider.

What’s the coolest product that you currently have stocked on the shelves?

Everything is cool (to someone)! My personal favourite right now would be the Here One Wireless Smart Earbuds. I’ve never been so impressed with a wireless earpiece before. These guys take noise cancellation tech to the next level. Imagine selectively cancelling out noises (shopping mall noises, MRT screeches, airplane drones) and being able to tune in to things you want to hear better. And, of course, it plays music too. Amazingly well.

What’s the most unexpected challenge you’ve faced so far with WTP?

When a business grows quickly, you really need to be quick to think and quick to resolve. We never expected to grow this quickly, so it’s really about making things work with limited resources. Man power is one of our very limited resources!

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What’s your biggest success?

Having someone new come into the store every day and immediately telling you that they love it and that it’s such a great concept. That’s enough for us.

What three words would you use to describe yourself as an entrepreneur?

Passionate, patient and humble.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to be bold like you and start a business that seems a bit left-field?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And give it your all when you do. Don’t fear failure as it is the greatest teacher, but try to learn from others’ mistakes as much as possible.

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